How can e-commerce firms tighten consumer verification and fraud-detection measures without increasing friction but increase consumer trust and loyalty instead?

The pandemic has changed how consumers behave—how they buy, what they buy, when they buy and who they buy from.

In their search to get the best deals for limited goods and services due to supply chain disruptions, they may shop around and display ‘erratic’ online buying behavioral patterns. Or they may access their online accounts and perform transactions at various times of the day away from their usual norm.

These behavioral changes and increased e-commerce/contactless online activities may be detected by organizations as suspicious, thereby necessitating additional verification measures and even delays.

Defining the dilemma

So, what can e-commerce businesses and organizations do to adjust to the new norms and avoid false alarms? According to a developer of cybersecurity solutions for digital banking systems Airome, fraud prevention mechanisms generally work on the principle that ‘established consumer behavior’ — determined by each account’s baseline transaction types, access times and frequencies — is normal and trustworthy.

Any deviations or abnormal behavioral patterns may then be deemed suspicious and flagged as possible fraud, thus triggering additional security checks. In turn, these added measures may inadvertently create more friction to the overall customer experience, especially because more new customers are varying their baseline buying behavior and raising suspicions in the fraud detection processes.

Yet, online customers now expect frictionless and personalized experiences at any touch point, so organization’s failure to meet these expectations may result in cart abandonment or even customers jumping ship. Herein lies the dilemma: to protect online customers amid surging e-commerce fraud, organizations have to tread carefully or risk losing business and loyalty.

Inevitably, organizations will have to alter their fraud mechanisms that rely on behavioral analytics and risk-based assessment, and then supplement them with additional safeguards that do not compromise the overall CX journey.

Sniffing out the fraud

While cognizant of changed e-consumer behavioral patterns, organizations also know that hackers and scammers are capitalizing on the e-commerce surge. The main types of cybercrimes that have been surging during this pandemic are:

  • internet scams
  • phishing/smishing
  • disruptive malware
  • data theft
  • evil domains

Scamming unsuspecting victims through phishing and smishing campaigns to steal personal and banking data seem to be the modus operandi for most malefactors, leading to a rise in third-party identity fraud.

With stolen credentials, these fraudsters are able to impersonate the identities of victims to gain access to their accounts using their personally identifiable information (PII) in account takeover (ATO) fraud. Via the compromised account, a fraudster is able to perform fraudulent transactions and fund transfers.

ATO is a very lucrative business for cybercriminals and poses a huge threat to online banking services and e-commerce. ATO attacks can also cause huge reputational damage to an established brand, and undermine the trust and confidence of customers.

Four ways to address the dilemma

In addition to finetuning fraud detection AI to account for changing consumer behavior, avoid unnecessary detriment to CX and boost cybersecurity, there are four ways to boost customer confidence in an e-commerce platform’s credibility and differentiation:

  • Mobile-centricity
    Since the smartphone is now very much part of their lives, it would be ideal to use it as them for secure and frictionless transaction authentication and confirmation tool to complement existing fraud mechanisms. Well-designed, secure and personalized mobile app interaction can go a long way in reducing any extra friction needed in managing the safety of both customers and e-commerce platforms.
  • eKYC
    The first step in addressing e-commerce cybersecurity is to apply Electronic Know Your Customer (eKYC) processes for customer onboarding, identity verification and ongoing user authentication. eKYC provides a more robust biometric-based verification system to complement traditional anti-fraud methods such as password and two-factor authentication (2FA) solutions. The rise of ‘deep fakes’ and identity spoofing technologies, however, represents a potential challenge to biometrics-based verification systems. Fortunately, multi-factor biometric identity verification and certified liveness detection technologies have evolved accordingly, to address the changing security needs of businesses and consumers.
  • PKI
    According to Airome, organizations should also use managed Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) services to provide encryption for financial websites, apps, and emails. Any message sent over the Internet can benefit from PKI technology, whether it is company to company, company to government, international or domestic. PKI offers unique benefits, such as digital signatures that create persistent, tamper-resistant evidence of “who did what to whom”, which is critical to electronic transactions carrying high legal risks or compliance requirements.
  • Going paperless
    Concurrently, consumer demand for innovative online digital services has increased greatly since the start of the pandemic. As a vendor of e-document management systems, Airome’s spokesperson has raised the importance of digitizing paperwork to reduce the financial and time costs, lower the risk of errors and enhance digital interaction for customers in the pandemic era.

    A paperless office uses digital channels to execute and digitally sign agreements, ensuring the integrity and authorship of these documents.
    Organizations that are able to be an integral part of customers’ digital lifestyle in a secure and frictionless way will be able to stay relevant in an increasingly digital world where even previously tech-averse seniors are now discovering e-commerce.

Ultimately, by adopting an ongoing customer-centric mobile approach when balancing low-friction CX with fraud detection and prevention, businesses can optimize interactions that will result in increased customer trust, satisfaction and wallet share—and a subsequent decrease in customer churn.

Customer trust, after all, is the cornerstone of the digital economy.